T Nation

What Will It Take To Stop This?

Taking from AE boards, posted by a moderator…

“There is sad news to report from NYC, tonight, regarding the health of IFBB pro Orville Burke.
As was previously reported , Orville injured his elbow, during a photo shoot, following the Olympia.

He was scheduled to have surgery to repair the injury, this week. It would be necessary for Orville to receive a general anesthetic for the surgical procedure.
As is the case for so many BBers with extreme muscularity, Orville has suffered from high blood pressure and an enlarged heart, for some time, and has been under the care of a cardiologist. He also has asthma, which limited his ability to do cardio. He did not tell the orthopedic surgeons who were to do the elbow surgery. But, during the pre-surgery work-up, all this was discovered. Orville was declared a non-candidate for a general anesthetic, and the operation was cancelled.

Orville went to his cardiologist, who, for reasons unknown to me, gave Orville a written release to undergo the general anesthetic and elbow surgery. So, Orville was cleared, and the surgery took place.
During the surgery, Orville’s heart failed, and, following attempts to restart his heart, he lapsed into coma.

Tonight, Orville remains alive, but unconscious. It is unknown whether he may be restored to consciousness, or the possible extent of brain damage. Surely, his career, as a pro BBer, must be at an end.
Those of us who know or met Orville Burke, know he is a kind and gentle soul, and a wonderful Ambassador for the sport. I
sincerely hope that each and every one of you will keep Orville in your thoughts and prayers, in the days ahead.”

First off, my thoughts and prayers are go out to Orville and his family. OB is TRULY a “Gentle Giant” of a man, and by all indications, one of the best Ambassodors of the sport.

But the polypharmacy and the push for massive size at ANY cost has to stop. And it can, with judging that does not force the atheletes to push more and more for mass for mass sake,the “thin-skin”/low water look and extreme “rippness”/BF percentages in order to win.

Just your thoughts, guys. OB is one of my favorites, so I’ll tell you straight up…any of you guys who defend the practices that these atheletes have to go through aren’t worth debating…PEACE…

(Chris Shugart…it would be great to hear your take…your thoughts in this weeks issue of “Testosterone” seem almost “prophetic”…)

“He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword”… 'nuff said.

I did see this yesterday and can not say that I am surprised any more when any of the competitive meatheads drop dead or end up in a hospital. I wish him well and hope he makes it but he has no one to blame but himself. These men and former women know what they are getting into. It’s a choice, stupid one but a choice nonetheless. As far as being a proffesion, pro bodybuilder does not rate not much higher than a crack whore (ok escort). A 100th or even 200th rank tennis player still makes a very good living, where are 100th or 200th ranked bodybuilders? Whose knobs are they polishing? OK enough ranting. I hope he makes it for the sake of his family.

There should be thanks to the IFBB judges, James Manion, and the various promoters of the pro shows for sad events like this. Now while these “athletes” are grown men and choose to take the drugs they do, the above people could have curbed the need for this level/degree of muscularity very easily. But they never have. Or sure, they sent out a memo to the pro women on the changes of judging standards, but not the men.

How many pro bodybuilders have to die before someone (a competitor, promoter or judge) says "ENOUGH!" We've lost Mohammad Bennaziza, Andreas Munser - I know there are a couple of others I'm missing here.

We may joke about the current state of affairs of pro bodyduilding in this forum (distended guts, etc.), but it's really tragic. It just saddens me that the one sport that propelled me into a life of physical fitness/culture is now so "ugly".

Chaulk up another victim for Joe and Ben Weider and their insane drive to push BB’s to new levels of freakishness. I guess when money is your only God, any means to get more of it is acceptable in your sick mind. How many more lives will we allow these scumbags to ruin?

that’s very sad. I think and I sincerely hope that this will signal a change in the “sport” of bodybuilding. It makes me sick to see people push their health to the limit. I wish we could go back to the Arnold times when bodybuilding was still healthy (or healthier).
Let’s just hope idiots like Joe Weider (and the judges) finally realize what they have done to bodybuildng.

Well, Mufasa, I think between the interview and the “Bodybuilding is Dead” Guest Atomic Dog I wrote a while back, you know my opinions, but let’s flip the script just for a second.

Think about this: what is it that you do that you want to be the best at? What do you do for a living or for a hobby that you want to excel at, something you get paid for or maybe just get a big ego boost from, or both? What is your passion? It doesn’t matter if you’re a computer programmer, an artist, a mailman, or a trainer, just think about what it is that you do.

Now, imagine that you decided a long time ago to dedicate your life to this field. You sacrificed everything else to be the best at it and to make a living from it. You changed your life. Turns out you were good at it, and you had a talent for it. You had the drive and the genetics (if that applies). And you wanted this more than anything. And now, because you’ve given up everything else - other jobs, more education, relationships, etc - it’s all you know how to do.

Now imagine that you reach a point where hard work and natural talent have peaked out. It doesn’t matter if you work hard - you can’t work any harder and you’re already working harder than anyone else - and it doesn’t matter if you’re gifted in this field because EVERYONE at your level is gifted. Yet on a scale from 1-10, you’re only at a 7 in your field. You haven’t even cracked the top level; no one else in your field knows you or respects you.

The only way to go further is to use drugs. Illegal drugs. Drugs that can damage your health. But this is all you’ve every wanted, you HAVE to take this step because, well, what else would you do, apply at Burger King? It’s all you have. You take the drugs and rise to an 8. Now what? you think. Well, turns out those “better” than you take a LOT of drugs, they push way past the safe point. So you do too. And you rise to a 9. You take more drugs, higher amounts, more variety, etc and finally you’re a 10. Only now instead of being the best, you’re simply on par with hundreds of others in your field. Sure, these are top level people, but you’re not #1 or anything. But you’ve come this far…

For a pro-bodybuilder being a 10 means you might get your picture in a magazine or maybe get your pro-card. Being 10 doesn’t mean you even crack the top ten at the Mr. O. You’ve come this far, so you go further, you use synthol, you perform a sexual favor for a judge, you get plastic surgery, you shove every drug you can find into your system, you sign what’s left of you life away, nothing matters now, you’re so close, you must win, win, WIN! Now you MIGHT crack the top 10 at the Mr. O. But now you’re getting older and your body is rebelling. Age and injuries catch up with you, but you haven’t accomplished what you’ve set out to do yet. So you take more and more risks. Maybe you win a big trophy and get a fat supplement contract (so you can hawk a supplement you don’t even use - good thing you’ve lost any sense of right and wrong a long time ago - and besides you have to make a living) or maybe you die, or at least die too young, broken and bitter. (See Mentzer.) Or maybe you just go to jail.

So that’s what most pros deal with. They’ve often sacrificed their whole lives for this “sport”. They know nothing else. They’ve come so far, they can’t stop. Their entire self esteem and identity is wrapped up in being the “big guy”.

You know, we often speak despairingly against those who appear on the pro scene for a while, then disappear into oblivion. But maybe they’re the smart ones. Maybe they realized that living past 50 is more important, or being there for their kids, or being healthy and smaller, rather than bigger and sicker. Makes you almost feel sorry for the pros that go all the way. Almost.

And the worst part is that half of the people look at the pros and get scared away from weight training (especially women), the other half gets discouraged because they used Lee Priest’s arm routine they read about in Flex, they take the supplements he pushes, and they look nothing like him (these are usual young, naive guys.) All this has caused me to disregard high level competitive bodybuilding - hence the “Bodybuilding is Dead” article. There’s weight training and improving your mind and body, and then there’s pro-bodybuilding. Two different worlds. I love the first and disregard the second.

This is why I’ve started a new series for T-mag tentatively called “Real Muscle, Real People”. The series will focus on one person who’s changed his or her body with weight training and diet in a healthy manner, people who can be realistic role models and really inspire and teach others rather than fill them full of lies and disappointment, which is what I feel most pros do. (Sure, they may inspire you to begin with, but most see the truth after a few years.) The series would focus on real people with real jobs who’ve had to struggle to build their bodies - not genetic freaks who use buckets of drugs and do this for a living. I suppose this smacks a little of Body for Life, but this isn’t a competition or a marketing campaign. It’s just T-mag interviewing a real person who looks great and talking to him about how he did it and picking his brains about training and diet. The first article is almost complete, then I’ll be looking for other folks to be featured in the series. I’m hoping to find a few here on the T-Forum as a matter of fact.

Rant/Mini Atomic Dog/Article Sneak Preview over.

sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you… It is very unfortunate and I guess to some unnecessary but the guy had to know he was putting himself at risk. There is such a “knee jerk” reaction for people to try and save and/or condemn people who practice self-destructive behavior and I really don’t understand it. Where is it written that everyone has to live to collect social security and die wearing Depends while mumbling fragments of sentences to yourself? What ever happened to survival of the fittest? I have friends that I’m sure one day I’ll be standing over their coffin long before it’s my time to go. That’s just the way it is. They make their choices and I make mine. We’re grown men and we can do what we want, bottom line. Ever hear the song “Shooting Star” by Bad Company? Well, some people are shooting stars and others shine a little longer but maybe not as bright. I know this ain’t the most popular stance but i really don’t care.

Damn…you’re right Chris…and as always, thanks…

I don’t compete, but I really do love “this thing we do” and really have an affinity for a lot of the top guys. I don’t think that their Profession will ever change unless FORCED to…and because the Average American is not affected by what the Bodybuilder does, I don’t think that that will happen (much like the reforms over the years for many dangerous professions and work conditions…I really don’t think there will be a “public outcry” for these guys…and that saddens me to no end…)

So…what’s the answer? Do guys die, and we move on? Will the atheletes themselves have to “wake up”?

I’m only asking you guys for your opinions, because I know that there is no easy answer…


The guy was under the care of a cardiologist. That in and of itself should have been a clue. I have a friend in a similar situation only her chosen field is medicine. She worked all her life to get to where she is. She was in the top of her class in med school and has saved some lives, lost some patients, and brought a few more into the world. She has diabetes though and the stress and schedule of her working is taking its toll on her health. She could have retired on disability a few years ago and now she is. She came to the realization that instead of living 10 more years she can maybe make it 15 if she gives up being a doctor. That is the choice she’s making. The guy we’re talking about I know had the same choice and took the other fork in the road. Not everyone will be on that podium, matter of fact most won’t, no matter how much they compromise their health. That’s the bitch about freedom and choices, sometimes they are expensive.

Excellent idea Chris. I think a lot of people would enjoy reading about “real” people who have changed their appearance/lifestyle with weights and training but something that is attainable with pure hard work. I can’t wait to read this series. Good luck finding people on the T-forum.

The sad part is that if the pros “cleaned up”-- not meaning they go drug free, but just use Arnold and Zane amounts-- then no one would come to the shows. People go to see freaks these days and read Flex to see them.

First, to Chris Shugart, that was an excellent post, start to finish. And I think that the idea for a “real world” BB series is great. There are certainly a lot of people on the Forum who have incorporated BBing into their lives in a very positive way, one that enhances the other activities that they do, not detracts from them. (And I bet Patricia is going to be your first interview - right? Do I get a gold star?)

Still, much as I understand the points made, I have to say that it seems to me that a focus like that , while admirable in some senses, has its tragic aspects as well. To do ANYTHING to the extent that “that’s all you do” just doesn’t work very well for almost anyone. Sure, there’s the occasional guy like Arnold who seems to be able to shift seamlessly from one field to another and make himself the best in all of them, but people like that come along once in a generation or so. No one else has managed to duplicate his achievements, and certainly no one else has seemed to do it as easily as he did.

I think that’s the litmus test, if one is needed - just how much effort does take for you to do “your thing”? Frankly, Orville Burke came into BBing late, had a kind of odd-looking body, and rarely seemed to be able to peak on time, even with some very high-level help. Great guy, I’m sure - that seems to be the overwhelming consensus. But not someone who should have chosen professional BBing as his career. That’s the tragedy to me: he could have done something else and still had a body that everyone around him would be in absolute awe of.

When I started weightlifting, back in the mid-70s, I got comments like “What are you going to do with all those muscles once you’ve got them?” (As though having more muscle somehow would prevent me from being an accountant or construction worker or university professor or researcher or whatever.) People just didn’t get it. Well, the point is that it doesn’t prevent you from doing all those other things - that’s the beauty of BBing!

What a shame about Burke, Benazizza, Muntzer and - probably pretty soon - Paul Dillet.

Finally, in response to louden swain: You wrote “I have friends that I’m sure one day I’ll be standing over their coffin long before it’s my time to go.” Yeah, nice line. But once you actually have to stand by one of those friends’ coffins, you may change your tune.

Anyway. Good thread, Mufasa.